Israeli Support for Christian Scholar
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Israeli Support for Christian Scholar

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Several prominent Israelis have come out in support of Dr. Douglas Young, president of the American Institute of Holy Land Studies, who has been accused of missionary activities in the last few weeks. The American Institute of Holy Land Studies is an American secular educational institution designed to teach the history, geography, culture and language of Israel and, by this means, counteract anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in Christian communities.

The Institute, which has carried out educational programs on Mt. Zion in East Jerusalem since 1959, recently found itself involved in a property dispute with the Diaspora Yeshiva, also on Mt. Zion. According to Jerusalem police, the yeshiva students broke through the main gate of the Institute and forcibly resisted police attempts to oust them. Fourteen yeshiva students, headed by the leader of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein, were arrested.

This happened a month ago and the matter is now before the court. Meanwhile, a public campaign has been launched against Dr. Young and his Institute by a “public committee” whose spokesman and apparent organizer is Rabbi Arye Julius, a former aide to Rabbi Meir Kahane.

In a press conference some two weeks ago Rabbi Julius and Rabbi Goldstein charged that the Institute was a missionary outpost. Dr. Young denied the charge at a press conference this week. Mayor Teddy Kollek wrote him a letter saying that extremists had made him the target of an ugly campaign. “I am disgusted at the slanderous accusations they have made,” Kollek wrote.

Dr. Moshe Bernard Reznikoff, director of the American Jewish Committee here, described Dr. Young as “a sincere and devoted friend of Israel. The current campaign against Dr. Young and his school has no foundation in fact and may seriously impair Israel’s image both here and abroad.”

Yosef Emanuel, secretary of the Israel Inter-faith Committee, said that the architects of the campaign were trying “to blackmail public opinion to their side by playing on the missionary issue. A statement supporting Dr. Young was published by the Interfaith Committee leadership, including Prof. Shemaryahu Talmon, the noted Bible scholar, and Dr. Andre Chouraui, the historian.

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